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Charlotte Church denies antisemitism after singing pro-Palestinian song

<span>Charlotte Church: ‘I have a deep heart for all religions and all difference.’</span><span>Photograph: Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock</span>
Charlotte Church: ‘I have a deep heart for all religions and all difference.’Photograph: Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock

The Welsh singer Charlotte Church has denied being antisemitic after taking part in a concert that featured the controversial pro-Palestinian chant From the River to the Sea.

Church was singing at the concert, which took place at the Bedwas Workmen’s Hall near Caerphilly, to raise money for the Middle East Children’s Alliance, an aid organisation that supports children in Gaza.

The singer led a choir of about 100 people in a rendition of From the River to the Sea, a song that references the land between the Jordan River, which borders eastern Israel, and the Mediterranean Sea to the west. Critics, including the Campaign Against Antisemitism, say the chant is antisemitic and calls for the destruction of Israel.

During an Instagram Live video on Monday, Church said: “Just to clarify my intentions there, I am in no way antisemitic. I am fighting for the liberation of all people. I have a deep heart for all religions and all difference.

“It was a beautiful, beautiful event. But unfortunately, the powers that be can’t have that. [They] can’t have such a powerful symbol of resistance as what we worked towards on Saturday.”

Related: ‘From the river to the sea’: where does the slogan come from and what does it mean?

Palestinian activists deny that the chant is antisemitic and say it refers to “the right of all Palestinians to freedom, equality and justice”.

The Guardian’s history of the chant describes it as being “open to an array of interpretations, from the genocidal to the democratic” since it emerged in the 1960s.

Church said: “Clearly, if you know the history of it all, [it is] not an antisemitic chant calling for the obliteration of Israel. It is not that in any way shape or form. It is calling for the peaceful coexistence of Israelis and Palestinians.”

She added that “lots of other beautiful songs … of liberation and freedom” were performed at the event, including from the South African anti-apartheid movement, “the lyrics of which were adapted to the situation in Palestine”.

The singer has been vocal about the Israel-Gaza war on social media, saying she is “in tears daily” over the news and videos coming from the region.

In 2022, Church told the Observer that she often faces criticism when she discusses matters that are important to her, whether that is feminism, the climate crisis, anti-austerity, “or anything”.

She said: “Each time I place my head above the parapet, I’m mocked and made to feel stupid and small. Being compliant would be easier, to mind my own. But that’s not what I’m on this earth for.”

Charlotte Church’s representatives have been contacted for comment.